Tichaona Katsvamutima in Chinhoyi
The unorthodox takeover of 120 hectares of land by a private developer in Zvimba District has raised eyebrows amid indications that officials from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing are trying to regularise the illegal transaction.
Local government officials are accused of presiding over meetings that sought to regularise the acquisition of the land at Haydon Farm to Delatfin Investments.
The officials who sat and chaired some of the meetings are: Principal Director Responsible for Rural Authorities Christopher Shumba, Principal Director of Physical Planning Ethel Mlalazi, and Acting Deputy Director State Land Department Kristina Koswa Chikotera.
Mlalazi has, however, since left the ministry. Minutes of the meetings are in possession of Business Times.
According to documents, in 2011 the Zvimba Rural District Council advertised for a tender to develop Haydon Farm, measuring 744,560 hectares. The Council wanted to partner a private developer to service the land and awarded the tender to Delatfin Investments, whose CEO is Felix Munyaradzi.
According to the agreement, the developer gets 60% of the shares of the proceeds of the partnership while the Council gets 40% plus 10% commonage.
However, on the implementation of the project, it was discovered that only 266 hectares of Haydon Farm was available to the partnership as the other portion was already earmarked for a government Jatropha Project, and the other 100 hectares had been allocated to Lovemore Kurotwi for a college and truck inn.
But the developer then proceeded to take 120 hectares of land that was not part of the project without the approval of the Zvimba District Council, resulting in a dispute with the owner of the annexed land, Leengate, another developer.
On 20 March 2018, a meeting was held in the Ministry of Local Government’s boardroom to address the allocation of land at Haydon Farm with a view of correcting the anomaly.
But instead, the meeting recommended that the Department of State Land should write a formal letter to Delatfin Investments and regularise the allocation of the disputed 120 hectares.
In taking over the land, Delatfin Investments claimed that it was allocated the whole farm through the Council tender, a claim the Council disputes.
Delatfin’s CEO, Felix Munyaradzi, insists that his company won the tender and was allocated 744 hectares on Haydon Farm. He says the Council and his company signed a Memorandum of Agreement covering the 744 hectares.
But Peter Hlohla, Zvimba RDC CEO, disputes Munyaradzi’s claim.
He says “sometime in 2011, Zvimba RDC advertised not to allocate Haydon Farm but to partner with a developer in servicing the land prior to the acquisition of the same. The mention of 744 hectares in the Memorandum of Agreement was for description purposes of the available land.”
He says the Council, in partnership with Delatfin, produced a layout plan covering 266 hectares. This was the land that was available after deducting the other portions that had been offered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the Jatropha project (295 hectares), Conway College (70 hectares), and the Diamond Processing Centre (30 hectares).